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Westbury Incinerator Update

July 23, 2022 7:00 AM
By South West Wiltshire Liberal Democrats

Westbury Incinerator ()The application by Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd goes to the Strategic Planning Committee for the third time next Wednesday (July 27). In June '21 the committee resolved to permit the scheme. The vote split on party lines, with the Conservatives voting for permission and Lib Dems and the Independent voting against. But there was a delay while the Secretary of State considered whether it should be decided at national level. It took nine months for the government to kick it back to Wiltshire Council. So the Planning Committee was asked if it was still happy with the original decision or if the passage of time had tilted the balance. In a fit of indecision the members decided to defer, asking for yet more information.

Meanwhile the applicants have appealed to the planning inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination. This option is open to anyone whose planning application is not decided within the time limits. Generally it's not a good idea as however slow Wiltshire Counci may be, the planning inspectorate is slower, so a non-determination appeal usually has the paradoxical effect of delaying a final decision.

What the council has to do now is decide what its decision would have been had it been able to decide.

The meeting on Wednesday is still very significant though. If committee members say they would've refused, then Wiltshire Council will have to fight the appeal. That'll be expensive in itself and the council could also have the applicants costs awarded against it, which could be a large amount because of the dithering of the committee. If the decision is that they would have permitted, then the appeal still has to go ahead but the council wouldn't contest it.

So whereas a clean refusal in 2021 would probably have been the best option, the majority of committee members are likely to support the scheme as they did then.